Can stem cells treat liver disease?

Louis A. Cona M.D.

Here we describe how stem cells may be able to treat liver disease.

Liver disease has had an increasing incidence and become a troubling cause of death in more people each year. It accounts for over 33,500 deaths in the U.S. alone every year. Unfortunately, past treatments for damaged or diseased livers have been plagued with issues. Treatments are often rarely available, too expensive, or come with large costs of quality of life for patients. However, advances in stem cell treatments have created a new path toward regaining their health for patients with liver disease.


Can Stem Cell Therapy Treat Liver Cirrhosis?


Cirrhosis of the liver is characterized by the internal scarring and subsequent dysfunction of the liver. Cirrhosis can be caused by many different conditions, but most notable is due to alcohol consumption or viral hepatitis B and C. Although certain parts of the liver have been shown to able to naturally regenerate, the only proven treatment for end-stage liver disease is a full liver transplant. Unfortunately, this treatment is extremely expensive, donors are hard to come by, and there is a risk of rejection of the organ by the patient's body.  Stem cells have the unique ability to morph or differentiate into different types of cells within the body. In this way, stem cells can be used to seek out damaged liver tissue and regenerate the organ itself. 


Although available data is limited and tests are still ongoing, a study ran by PubMed in 2013 used 11 clinical trials to test the use of stem cells on damaged liver patients. The independent trials showed that not only were stem cells a safe form of intravenous treatment for liver failure, but all of the trials reported positive results. The results ranged from improvements to quality of life and quantitatively improving liver function, to reducing morbidity and mortality. The studies showed patients to have a significant decrease in the MELD score (The Model for End-Stage Liver Disease), MELD score measures the risk of mortality in patients with liver disease. 


What does the future look like?


Liver disease is difficult to treat, but stem cell treatments have provided a bright future for patients. While the positive results of treatment are continuing to be reported, some patients find the lack of a required transplant reason enough to seek potential treatment. There have already been numerous success stories for patient recovery without the need for transplant. With transplant costs reaching over $150,000 for the first year after treatment, stem cells are providing patients with an affordable and sustainable way forward.  


3 DAYS POST TREATMENT

Tyler explains his experience at DVC Stem in the Cayman Islands.

Tyler is optimistic that he will see positive results post treatment.

"The cool thing about the Cayman Islands besides being beautiful, it was an opportunity to get some rest and relaxation allowing my body to heal and restore. I'm back in the US now and feel like I am ready to conquer the world."

- Tyler Heid

2 WEEKS POST TREATMENT

2 weeks post treatment, MS patient Tyler is beginning to see amazing progress. He has been wheelchair bound for the last year and has not been able to move his legs unassisted before now.

2 MONTHS POST TREATMENT

Tyler updates about his progress, explaining the amazing response he has been receiving from his friends and family.

"People coming up to me saying I am moving, talking and smiling so much better. They are noticing a lot of things that have improved over the course of 3 months."

"This morning I was able to do things that I was unable to do before, I was able to stand up and lift my leg higher than I ever have before."

5 MONTHS POST TREATMENT

5 months post treatment Tyler sends us an update on his progress.

"I'm able to smile better, I have more control over the left side of my face."

"I have an increased ability to grip, lift my legs higher and higher which has gone well."

Tyler is optimistic and on the right track to recovery. We are ecstatic to see his progress and look forward to more updates from him.

"I have an increased ability to grip, lift my legs higher and higher which has gone well."

Tyler Heid - 5 months post treatment

David Lyons

Multiple Sclerosis

Although David Lyons was able to successfully fight Multiple Sclerosis through a strict regimen of diet and exercise, he wanted to ensure he was doing everything he could to stay fit. Multiple Sclerosis can be managed with treatment, but there is currently no cure for the disease. For that reason, David came to DVC Stem years ago to use the regenerative and anti-inflammatory attributes of stem cells to aid in his fight for fitness.

The positive results he experienced enabled David to stay strong in the gym, now into his 60s, and that is why he continues to support our clinic to this day.

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